Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day. And for today, I wanted to write about a sort of ableism (as we call it here in North America) that’s rather subtle and largely unconscious, but no less problematic.
An important concept in social justice circles is the idea of privilege. For those unacquainted with the concept, perhaps the easiest way to describe it is that by being born into a certain group (race, gender, economic class, etc.), you’ve automatically, even unconsciously, been given an advantage in certain matters as a part of that group. This, of course, even applies to disability: if you’re not disabled, you’re automatically granted advantages that many disabled people will have to work for at best, or may never attain at worst.
I’d write about neurotypical privilege here, since that’s the most obvious case that’d be relevant to my own disabilities, but Bev from Square 8 has already created a neurotypical privilege checklist that’s so good, I don’t think I could ever manage to outdo it. (And besides, I contributed a couple items to it myself!)
However, along with Asperger’s syndrome, I also have auditory processing disorder. It affects pretty much every act of spoken communication I participate in, so it’s not something that can be easily ignored. And I’ve noticed that many people don’t even consider how certain activities can be discriminatory to those of us with abnormal hearing or auditory processing.
I wish I could provide an outright hearing privilege checklist, but that’d be problematic given that I have at least some privilege in that respect myself. My hearing itself is OK; I’m overly sensitive to noises, and I have perfect pitch that’s a blessing for solving the Selenitic Age in Myst but a curse when I’m asked to play on a piano that’s horribly out of tune. 😛 At the same time, because of my auditory processing disorder, I do share many of the same difficulties understanding speech that someone who’s deaf or hard of hearing would have. Nonetheless, it’d be best to refer to this as an auditory processing privilege checklist, not a hearing one.
So, without further ado: